Don’t Get In That Car Unless You Know Who Is Picking You Up

How to rideshare from here to there safely

I was ‘stranded’ last week after our church’s semi-monthly men’s breakfast.

 More accurately, I needed to get home without asking one of our guys for a ride. It is a strange quirk, but I also thought it would be entirely out of their way.

So I requested a Lyft rideshare. As I watched the map on my iPhone, nothing was happening. It kept repeating, ‘We are looking for your ride,’ but no car symbol appeared.

After about five or ten minutes, I canceled my Lyft request and opened my Uber app. Quite reluctantly, I have to say. I will go into the reasons later.

My request was in the queue; an Uber driver was nearby, just completing a ride. The car arrived right where I was standing. Twenty minutes later, he dropped me off at our apartment complex’s door. The fare? Only $15.75.

Do you use a rideshare app? If not, why not? Unless you walk everywhere or have your car in the city, you could benefit from Lyft and Uber.

It’s not too tricky, although my wife begs to differ. We like to call her a ‘semi-Luddite.’ She loves her iPhone and travels with her MacBook in her bag. But if we suggest a change or an additional app, she heartedly resists.

Sometimes, she will give it a try. In California recently, there to perform her niece’s wedding, we convinced her to download and use the Lyft app. Otherwise, she would have wandered around Claremont in the dark for who knows how long.

The moral of that mini-story is that it is easier than you think. Don’t neglect its utility.

Uber is fine when needed but not my first choice. Lyft is my favorite for several reasons.

First of all, I am one of their licensed drivers. They register my car’s license, age, and maintenance schedule. The company also watches me; they keep track of the rating posted by riders and respond quickly to issues.

A big reason I preferred Lyft is its social justice orientation. It offers free rides to the polls, for example. When protests broke out at airports, Lyft refused to do pick-ups in support of the immigration lawyers. Uber went with business as usual.

News stories about Uber’s ‘misadventures’ abound but reading them is ‘doom scrolling.’ I suspect Lyft has its share. The lesson is to pay attention and prepare.

When a driver accepts your request, the app will show the color and model of the car and the driver’s name. Take the time to check these things before jumping aboard. Remember, you are the customer.

Often in NYC, an official-looking black car would pull over, and the driver would open the window with “Are you looking for an Uber?” I don’t have to tell you that scams are everywhere.

 Both companies have implemented additional safety measures, including location sharing and calling 911 from the app. You are supposed to ride safely.

If you are in Duluth, Minnesota, I won’t answer your Lyft request, bad news or good, depending. Surgeries and the pandemic stalled my ‘career.’

Since I did not see a Lyft car, I wondered aloud if I should get back into action when I got home. My wise spouse, who does a great job protecting me in my dotage, says, “I would rather you not.” That does it for me because, as they say, down south, ‘My mother didn’t raise any dopes.’ (!)

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about it. Maybe the only thing I can do now is promise ridesharing stories you might enjoy. Call it nostalgia, but I like to recount the funny or add things I remember.

Watch for upcoming adventures on Crow’s Feel: Life As We Age.

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